Our resident tipster has his eye on three runners this afternoon.
Officials at Newbury seem fairly confident that racing will go ahead on Wednesday afternoon, with a precautionary inspection planned for 8.30am, and I hope they’re right as I fancy an 8/1 shot in the feature Harwell Trophy, a handicap chase over three miles (due off 3.10pm).
With a couple of odds-on shots earlier in the card and the mares race being a match between Mia’s Storm and Hollies Pearl (former just preferred), this is by far the best betting race in the card with 12 runners set to go to post. They are headed by Alan King’s Willoughby Hedge who was in the process of running a big race when falling at the cross fence in a race here 22 days ago. The winner of back-to-back novices in 2013, he was making his return from injury that day and, while you couldn’t say for certain he would have won, it was still a cracking effort and time may show that he’s on a lenient mark of 120.
However, none of that has escaped the attention of bookmakers and we are being asked to take just 5/2 in what is a competitive handicap. Besides, I’m not one for backing a horse after a fall as you don’t if confidence has been affected, and I’m happy to steer clear and back one against him.
Step forward the Kerry Lee-trained GOODTOKNOW, who is unusual in that he is a son of Presenting who relishes heavy ground. While the vast majority of the sire’s progeny prefer a better surface, it cannot be soft enough for the selection, who has a couple of heavy-ground wins to his name and is seen as a future Welsh National prospect. That may well be his target next season but he needs to start climbing the handicap in the meantime and he’s shown more than enough over fences so far to suggest he can take this valuable prize. A record of 1-14 doesn’t inspire but he’s finished runner-up on no less than six occasions, including at Ludlow on his reappearance, and still only seven he’s very likely still improving.
Okay, he was pulled up when returned to that track on his next start but that race may have come too soon (just a 14 day gap) and his stable’s good form shows no signs of stopping. Indeed, having landed this year’s Welsh National with Mountainous, his rookie trainer made it a big race double when saddling Saturday’s Classic Chase winner Russe Blanc. Both those horses are mudlarks who have improved with age and the selection is very much in the same mould. Today’s rider Jake Greenall has forged a good partnership with him and they are value at the 8/1 on offer, though an each-way bet is advised given the King horse could been thrown in.
To the all-weather now and backing anything trained by Stuart Williams and ridden by Oisin Murphy on an artificial surface has proved a successful formula, with the pair combining for a strike rate of 44% (7-16) and a £1 level-stakes profit of £19.25. That jumps to an even more impressive 67% strike rate in races at Lingfield and that’s a big pointer to the chances of BELLE MARE PLAGE in the opening maiden fillies stakes over 5f (12.30pm). She wasn’t beaten far into third in what looked a tougher contest over track and trip last time and this looks an ideal opportunity for her to get off the mark, with a plum draw in stall one another postive.
The same partnership team up with OAKLEY GIRL in the 1m fillies handicap at Kempton this evening (5.40pm) and the four-year-old is taken to maintain her unbeaten record in sand and land a hat-trick. Having opened her account over 1m2f here in November, she had no problem with the drop back in trip when bolting up by six lengths over an extra half further than today’s trip at Wolverhampton a fortnight ago. She’s been put up 9lb for that but remains in the same grade and this more galloping track should suit.
A double on the Williams-Murphy representatives pays 5.3/1 with bet365 at the current odds, which are Best Odds Guaranteed.